2.5 - I may need some time to process this, but my first impression is that I've got a lot of bones to pick up with it. Mainly Jon Hamm (whom I love but does not have a big range) and everything about directing and the photography (and that lost oportunity of an ending). Bones aside, Tim Robbins and Lois Smith were superb, the soundtrack was great and the thought provoking story went to some very interesting places.
Jean Baudrillard's fourth order of simulacra, the movie. "The fourth stage is pure simulation, in which the simulacrum has no relationship to any reality whatsoever. Here, signs merely reflect other signs and any claim to reality on the part of images or signs is only of the order of other such claims." A fascinating meditation on the upcoming post-human future that feels like a long episode of Black Mirror.
MARJORIE PRIME: simply a masterclass in the application(s) of film form. Shot selection, cutting, production design, sound design, and performance are all put to miraculous use in adapting what might have been a merely-decent play. I had to think of Resnais (most of whose finest late works were adaptations of plays). And it would seem Almereyda wanted me to. Pretty sure there's a straight shout-out to Marienbad.
To criticise this for not being cinematic is to miss the point. It's a film about being stuck, about talking to furniture, a long steadicam tracking shot would be contradictory. What the film tries to be, it is: a stunning, sincere but unsentimental dive into the notions of personal narrative, of memory, of the purpose of family.
A very talky film that sticks too close the play with very little camera movement and a plodding, even pace. The performances are reasonable and the ocean backdrop highly effective as an evocative motif for the eternal passing of time. By the end things come together beckoning the viewer to look within and contemplate their own life purpose. 3 stars
TFW the Mica Levi score hits. I'm not the hugest Almereyda fan, but I found Marjorie Prime prime to be his most human — and therefore moving — film. It wasn't a huge hit out of Sundance (probably because it's bleak as hell), but I was truly shaken by its earnest exploration of the power of memory —the ways in which we construct our realities to feel less alone in the world. Long live Lois Smith.
Marjorie Prime's ideas are far more interesting than its execution. Based on a stage play, we get the sense that this material would work much better there. As a film, Marjorie Prime is basic and unmotivated. The performances are all great, but would have probably served better on a stage. As a film, we can only really look at the decisions made cinematically and there really aren't many. It's flat and unengaging.